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#Connectivity & IoT

MWC24: IoT, AI, APIs, and even smarter phones

4 Mins.

The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is something connectivity players mark their calendars by. This year followed the template, with packed sessions discussing IoT and AI, and booths displaying the full range of new technology. In all the action, a few threads really stood out – ones that could point the way to future developments in connectivity. 

The Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona has a well-deserved reputation for being the biggest and most influential event globally in the connectivity field. The 2024 (February) edition was no exception: with over 100,000 attendees and over 2,700 exhibitors, sponsors, and partners, the MWC marches on. Some observers doubted it would recover from the pandemic, but attendance now matches where what it was in 2019. 

One of the real growth areas has been the representation from industries that wouldn’t, traditionally, have seen themselves as being in the connectivity business. Given how digital – and digitalized – all our lives are becoming, this should be no surprise. Innovations and trends in connectivity influence every other business, from media to manufacturing, agriculture to entertainment. Global changemakers gather in Barcelona to see thought leaders in connectivity and its related industries report on the previous year, talk about their current plans, and indulge in futurecasting.

Let’s take a look at what people were talking about at MWC24.

Congress building with blue sky for MWC24 summit in Barcelona

Customer experience is key

As the mobile environment moves towards eSIM and eSIM-only devices, the provisioning of iOS- and Android services and their management become crucial to any mobile network operator’s long-term success. Gary Waite, Product Evangelist/Strategist at G+D partner NetLync, spoke about how an entitlement server (ES) seamlessly setup sets up mobile services and offers a better user experience to customers. 

Relatedly, G+D’s Andreas Morawietz, Global Head of Portfolio Strategy, called out the persistent fallacy of how hard it is to manage eSIMs. “Hundreds of millions of consumer eSIM downloads prove that the complexity of eSIM management has already been solved,” he pointed out. Given the number of eSIM downloads worldwide and the growth of easily integrated Entitlements solutions, eSIM solutions will continue to grow even stronger.

5G, IoT and AIoT

male person showing a device on stage of the MWC24 summit in Barcelona

Seamless connectivity was a theme, as you might expect at MWC. It is of critical importance to the IoT, as G+D’s Philipp Schulte pointed out in his keynote address at the discussion “5G IoT Summit: Making IoT Work for Customers.”. While making the business case for the IoT, he touched on the potential pain points of security, coverage, and global scalability. Seamless connectivity is key to navigating these. Once that happens, there will be no limiting the IoT’s use cases. “We believe we will have a world where there will be billions of devices seamlessly connected in a secure manner … We will have unlimited potential across all different verticals,” said Schulte.

“Hundreds of millions of consumer eSIM downloads prove that the complexity of eSIM management has already been solved.“
Andreas Morawietz
Global Head of Portfolio Strategy at G+D

Another way in which the IoT was discussed was in its overlap with AI, or AIoT (Artificial Intelligence of Things). Tecno drew crowds last year with its foldable smartphone. While it was showing off innovative products this year as well, its showcase of products based on AI – these included a robot dog and a futuristic gaming unit – in a connected ecosystem drew a lot of interest. 

Artificial intelligence rolls on

Indeed, AI was a major talking point across MWC. Sessions dedicated to its impact ranged from sports to digital inclusion to hospitality. 

Humanizing AI was a theme as well. As part of that, there was a focus on generative AI (GenAI), and how businesses can be responsible actors in this seismic shift. The topicality of the theme is illustrated in two findings from PwC’s Annual CEO survey: while 70% of respondents stated they expected GenAI to significantly change how their companies created value, only 35% indicated they were focused on the systems and processes that deal with AI.1 Engagements ranged from debating whether GenAI was in fact overrated, to discussing whether AI would mirror how humans behave in every aspect, including being unethical in certain situations! 

Humanizing AI isn’t just of interest to corporates. Situating AI in everyday life was also a persistent theme of MWC24. What is more a part of everyone’s lives than their phones?

female person talking on stage in front of crowd at MWC24 summit Barcelona

AI powers smart devices

MWC is well-known as a place to showcase new releases, as well as upgrades to existing models. Visitors were invited to check out the new functionalities of Samsung’s Galaxy® S24 series for themselves. These new features include Live Translate and Transcript Assist, based on Galaxy® AI, Samsung’s in-house technology. 

Google also demonstrated a new range of features for its proprietary phones, and the larger Android ecosystem. Circle to Search proved popular with attendees, while its image capture service, Best Take, also attracted a lot of attention when demonstrated on the award-winning Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. 

Honor and Xiaomi also made news, with the latter including AI-enhanced photography in its latest models, while Oppo introduced a prototype of Air Glass 3, the newest version of its AI glasses, meant to function as a “smart assistant” to the wearer.

For Amy Garcia-Rendle, Head of Marketing for Connectivity and IoT at G+D, and part of G+D’s contingent in Barcelona this year, the changing form factor of smart devices stood out. “What I like about MWC is that it reminds you that nothing will stay the same for long,” she said. “Devices like the Humane AI Pin show how smartphones could evolve into mini wearable computers, capable of combining different AI tools to address the needs of the user. It’s a glimpse into a future that is not so very far away.”

The move to open APIs

GSMA’s Open Gateway initiative keeps rolling, with developers gaining access to operator networks so they can add services more quickly and securely, thus enhancing the user experience. Among other noteworthy announcements this year, Germany’s main telecom providers – Deutsche Telekom, O2 Telefónica, and Vodafone – announced the launch of a new service through Open Gateway to help app developers tackle online fraud and protect mobile customers’ digital identities. 

G+D employees in in lobby of MWC24 summit in Barcelona

Key takeaways

  • eSIM management is here to stay! The number of successful consumer downloads worldwide proves this.
  • Seamless connectivity will drive the growth of the IoT.
  • Industry insiders focused on AI in everyday life, apparent in the features of the new smartphones on show.
  1. PwC’s 27th Annual Global CEO Survey, PwC, Jan 2024

Published: 25/04/2024

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